US high-level delegation to meet president-elect

After a year and a half of turmoil, the Trump administration is attempting to repair its frazzled relations with close ally Mexico, dispatching a high-level delegation to meet the country’s next president.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead the team to Mexico City for meetings with President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a feisty leftist populist who won a landslide victory on July 1, as well as his outgoing predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto, and other senior government officials.

The U.S. delegation is expected to offer better ties and financial rewards while demanding that Mexico expand its efforts to reduce the flow of Central Americans who travel across Mexico toward the U.S. border.

Pompeo will be accompanied by President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is nominally in charge of the Mexico portfolio. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a hard-liner on immigration, and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, whose office handles economic sanctions, also are on board.


Gov’t raises flag over cradle of 2011 revolt

For the first time in more than seven years, the Syrian government raised its flag Thursday over Daraa, the first city to revolt against President Bashar Assad in 2011 and plunge the country into its calamitous civil war.

The display is laden with symbolism as the government moves to stamp out the last of the uprising against the 52-year-old Assad who has ruled with an iron fist over Syria for 18 years. His father Hafez Assad was president for three decades before him.

Officials accompanied by state media crews hoisted the two-star flag over the rubble of the city’s main square, allowing it to wave in sight of the shell of the Omari Mosque where protesters first gathered in demonstrations demanding reforms then Assad’s ouster in the spring of 2011.


‘War crimes’ probe urged over prisons

An international rights group on Thursday called for an investigation into alleged disappearances, torture and possible deaths in detention facilities run by the United Arab Emirates and its allied militias in southern Yemen as potential war crimes.

Amnesty International’s call comes months after The Associated Press reported that the UAE and allied militias were running a network of secret detention facilities where torture and abuses were widespread, outside the control of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government.

In a report titled “God only knows if he’s alive,” Amnesty said it documented “egregious violations going unchecked, including systemic enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment amounting to war crimes.”


Rescued boys healthy; rescuers head home

CHIANG RAI — The Thai and foreign rescuers of the youth soccer team trapped in a cave for 18 days began heading home Thursday, as doctors said the boys they saved have so far not shown any significant ill effects from their ordeal.

Members of the Thai navy SEAL team, who were among the first searchers at the Tham Luang Nang Non cave and the last divers out, flew to their base at Sattahip on the Gulf of Thailand, where they received a heroes’ welcome.

Wire reports